Reading Length: 5 minutes
In college, while I was trying to do some serious work, I would easily give in to whatever distractions came my way. But this never ended well because I always ended up paying the price for it during deadlines or exam weeks.
Now, I’m happy to say that I’m kind of well acquainted with flow state. We have a meeting every morning. For those who don’t know flow state, it’s a state where you get completely immersed in your work. Even as I was writing the content for this post, I entered the flow state. It’s better than drugs (not that I’ve tried. I’m a boring angel).
So without further a do, let’s get right into why flow state doesn’t want to be friends with you and why you keep getting distracted!
1. You don’t have clear priorities.
My goals used to be vague. I just said things like “I need to complete a research assignment.” or “I need to study for my exam.” But those sentences brought zero action. Why? Well, because I didn’t identify specific action steps to take to actually do those things. That was a mistake I just kept falling into. To avoid this mistake, here are some ways to start getting more clarity on our priorities:
- Identify 2-3 specific action steps Think about just 2-3 most important specific action steps to take in order to achieve your long-term goal. For example, for me, “studying for an exam” turned into “take notes and review 1 chapter everyday” and “review notes with a smart classmate everyday (I emphasize smart). Yes, go be friends with nerds. Even better if you are one).”
- Set time for planning. Time block a specific day and time of the week for planning. I do this on a Sunday night at 6pm. This would be the perfect time to plan anything. Organize your assignments or projects, plan your study sessions, or review your work-life balance wheel (I made a post on that too).
2. You avoid discomfort so you procrastinate.
When I was studying or doing my assignments, any hint of boredom or frustration led to the phone, the TV, my emails and even some random cleaning. Only my mom was happy with that. Well, this is the prime example of procrastination. I was afraid of any uncomfortable feelings such as boredom so I ended up ditching serious work. There’s already so many videos on procrastination and I also had covered this topic too so here are three tips that have been most helpful for me personally:
- Set early deadlines. Ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? “The amount of work required adjusts to the time available for its completion.” Well, this is true for me. Once I set an early deadline, I magically tend to complete the work beforehand. The pressure works. So consider establishing a deadline 1-2 days before your actual deadline on your next assignment, project or study session deadline. I know this is asking a lot from you last-minute crammers out there. My apologies.
- Use focus apps. There are so many productivity apps out there to help deal with focus. My favorite one is Forest. Just because it’s the only plant I can keep alive unlike all my plants at home. R.I.P. I usually set a focus session for 60-90 minutes with a 15-20 minute break in between. This is just the amount of time I can focus on. Everyone is different.
- Eliminate external distractions. Be honest about what’s stealing your attention away. Most likely they’re things like your phone, TV or email. So take the extra step to prevent those distractions like turning off your phone notifications and sounds, limiting watch time on TV, and time blocking email checking time.
3. You’re exhausted and burnt out.
I was constantly guilty of trying to take on too much all at once. I wanted to learn a new language, work in a part-time job, and study for my final exams all at once. Although there’s nothing wrong with setting ambitious goals, too much can lead to the opposite effect on us. We end up doing too much and burning ourselves out faster than Usain Bolt. So here’s what to do:
- Reduce the clutter in your day. Like I said before, stop trying to do so much at once. We’re not superheroes with unlimited energy. The Marvel superhero I need. Try identifying if there’s something in your schedule that isn’t necessary and could be eliminated or limited.
- Prioritize self-care and health first. Get enough sleep, exercise, fluids and healthy foods. Take LOTS of breaks instead of trying to work through everything in one sitting. If you’re feeling exhausted, remember that’s your body is telling you “Hello??? Stop ignoring me!”
- Understand your energy levels. I’ve kept track of my energy levels throughout the day and I know that I start off with 100% energy battery in the mornings but it slowly drops towards the afternoons. Or, just magically after I have lunch. That’s how I know to do my important work in the mornings and rest afterward. So try tracking your own energy levels everyday and figure out what times are you most alert versus exhausted? You can plan out a work schedule based on that.
Hope you didn’t get distracted reading this post here. Once we’ve figured out what’s the reason behind our distractions, we can get better at coming up with solutions to that problem. Let me know if you guys fall into one or all of these categories. Hopefully, once we can eliminate distractions, we can start being best friends with flow state.
You may like these other posts!
- 7 Productivity Tips I Wish I Knew Years Ago
- Productivity: How I Get Things Done and Organize My Life
- Flow State: How to Get Optimal Focus and Productivity
- 5 Ways to Stop Feeling Tired All the Time
- 5 Ways to Stop Feeling Tired and Boost Your Energy for College Students
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